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What is Creatine and How Does It Affect the Body?

Silvia Carli

09/16/2020
By Silvia Carli

Many people are using creatine right now to build muscle, but creatine has many uses beyond mere muscle mass. Doctors have discovered new functions for creatine and are changing our understanding of what creatine is and how it can be used.

I’ve used creatine to build muscle mass for years. I know it helps me maintain peak physical performance. I have never experienced any negative side effects from taking creatine, but I have had some unexpected positive results. I’ve noticed my mind was sharper and I was able to think more clearly when taking creatine. I didn’t understand the source of my mental edge until I found some new research.

Keep reading to discover the many surprising benefits of creatine, and see if it can boost your body and mind, too.

Creatine Improves your Athletic Performance

Creatine is one of the most effective and popular exercise and sport supplements on the market today. It’s an ingredient in most of the popular pre-workout supplements because it is so effective at increasing your endurance. Athletes who use creatine perform better for longer periods of time at high-intensity burst activities like basketball, football, and sprints.

Woman at the gym doing stretching exercises and smiling on the floor
Athletes Who Use Creatine Perform Better For Longer Periods Of Time At High-Intensity Burst (Image Source: Shutterstock)

If you have heard about creatine before, you probably know it can help you with strength training exercises to promote muscle growth.

If you want to maintain the muscle you have through strength training, or if you want help building muscle, you should consider creatine. The increases in endurance help you lift more weight and exercise for longer periods of time. The more you lift, the more muscle growth you will see. This is why creatine is so popular among bodybuilders.

Creatine monohydrate is the cheapest form of creatine, and one of the most popular. People see fast results when they start with a creatine loading phase of twenty grams a day for the first week. This gives you a jump on results so you can see and feel the difference right away.

Once you’re loaded up, the dose drops down to five grams a day. This is called the maintenance phase and it’s the dose most athletes and exercise enthusiasts use. Some of the more advanced forms of creatine do not require a loading phase. They have special additives and modifications that help the creatine be more effective. Over time, the results even out for most types of creatine, so creatine monohydrate is the most popular version for casual users.

Supplementing with creatine can help improve your cardiovascular health. When you have more endurance, you’re able to exercise and maintain your target heart rate for longer periods of time. This can strengthen your heart and protect you from cardiovascular disease.

The boost in athletic performance also has benefits for people who suffer from degenerative diseases that impact muscles and nerves. Patients who have more endurance can maintain a healthier muscle mass. The stronger a patient is, the easier they can deal with muscle tremors and other symptoms and live a more normal life.

What is Creatine, and Where Does it Come From?

Creatine is a molecule composed of the amino acids glycine, arginine, and methionine. It is active is the mitochondria of every cell in the human body and plays an essential role in energy production. Creatine can be found in food products like beef, pork, chicken, and fish. About half of our natural supply of creatine comes from these and other food sources. The rest is made in our kidneys and liver. Current research shows creatine is safe for everyone, from infants to the elderly.

Cropped image of handsome young sportsman preparing sport nutrition in kitchen at home
Creatine Supplementation Gives More Benefits Than Just Increased Endurance (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Mitochondria use the Citric Acid Cycle to burn sugar and create energy the body can use. Creatine is an essential ingredient in this process, and when we engage in strenuous exercise, it gets used up pretty quickly. By supplementing with creatine, athletes are able to keep their mitochondria working at peak efficiency for a longer period of time.

But creatine supplementation gives more benefits than just increased endurance. The science behind the many functions of creatine is not well understood, but new discoveries are being made all the time. As a result, scientists have made many different formulations of creatine that are on the market today for your use. Each one is formulated for specific activities and functions. The primary function of each of these products is the same, but the best creatine for you depends on your unique needs. As we learn more about creatine and its uses, we will probably find formulations that are even better than what we have today.

8 Questions About Creatine Answered | Jose Antonio, Ph.D. – Bodybuilding.com

Creatine is not very water-soluble, so the newer formulations have been modified to make it easier for the cells to absorb. Each new formulation targets a different kind of function. Some are combined with ingredients that boost brain-power, while others are made to speed recovery.

If you are considering creatine for something other than athletic performance, consult a dietician to make sure you get the best results.

Creatine Helps Repair Injury and Sharpens Cognitive Functions

Creatine also plays a role in recovery from illness and injury, and this same mechanism seems to help fight the side effects of aging. Creatine supplementation has demonstrated a positive impact on nerve growth and function. Scientists still haven’t discovered why, but the results are unmistakable.

On the road to recovery for knee injury after fitness exercise.
Creatine Supplementation Has Demonstrated A Positive Impact On Nerve Growth And Function (Image Source: Shutterstock)

Women with higher creatine levels give birth to babies with a higher birth weight, and it appears to promote the neural development of the fetus. A lack of oxygen during childbirth is a leading cause of brain damage, and creatine appears to provide protection for the baby.

Creatine Monohydrate is essentially as effective as other forms of creatine if all you want to do is build muscle. Different forms of creatine can cross the blood-brain barrier easier, and some types are formulated to give potential boosts to the cells of the nervous system, from your toes to the top of your head.

Your blood sugar levels directly impact cognitive function. Diabetics and people with metabolic problems need to carefully maintain the proper balance of sugars in the blood. Creatine helps maintain healthy blood sugar levels.

While studies are ongoing, early results show that patients suffering from various diseases can experience some relief from symptoms if they build up their muscle mass. Patients with Parkinson’s disease and other neurological conditions can improve their upper body strength through exercise and supplementation with creatine. It appears to help them better manage the symptoms of nerve disease and damage.

The most effective method I have seen for people to improve their lives is through small changes that accumulate over time. Many of my friends have benefited from taking supplements. Why not try creatine for a week and see if you like the results?

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